Marking Tools

There are many marking tools to help make your sewing life easier. It is important that you transfer all symbols and other important markings from the pattern piece unto the fabric. This ensures that when it comes time to sewing that you won’t miss any important instructions.

There are many different ways to transfer the markings and you will have to experiment with some in order to figure out which methods you prefer. There are many tools that you can use, but not all tools or methods are suitable for marking all types of fabrics. Some marking tools are not suitable for certain types of fabrics, and some just work better over others depending on your preference and/or what you are working with.

Here is a brief description of some tools and methods to use for marking your fabrics.

Tracing wheels and tracing paper

There are basically two types of tracing wheels; one has a smooth edge and the other is serrated. The serrated edge will make a dotted line and can snag some of the delicate fabric such as silk or satin. The smooth-edge wheel makes a solid line and can be used with more delicate fabrics.

To use the tracing wheels, you’ll need a special waxed carbon paper, also known as dressmaker’s tracing paper. This paper comes in different colors so you can use it with a variety of colored fabrics. Simply place the paper between the pattern piece and fabric and gently move the tracing wheel over the pattern piece to transfer the marking.

You can buy a single tracing wheel, which has one wheel for marking. A double tracing wheel has two wheels side by side and comes in handy if you need to enlarge or reduce the pattern size.

Tailor’s Chalk

Tailor’s chalk goes on quick and rubs off quick as well. If you are going to use this make sure that you will be able to sew it immediately after you make your markings.

Chalk can be purchased in the form of a pencil and works well to make finer markings on the fabric.


This is great when marking designs for top stitching because the chalk comes off during pressing, washing, or within 24 hours. So when the stitching is done all traces of the markings are gone leaving you with nothing but your stitch work.

Tailor Tacker

This is one of the best tools in cases when you need to mark two sides of the fabric. It has two pieces of chalk in the center, which comes apart. One end has a hole and the other end a pointed needle. Place the needle end through the fabric where to need to make a small mark. Then slide the other end over the needle to bring the two ends together. Once touching, make a gentle twist to create the mark.

Water and Air Soluble Marking Pens

Markings made with water soluble marking pens will wash out easily with water. With the air soluble marking, the markings magically disappear within 48 hours of marking, so be sure to sew before then.

When using these make sure to wash out all markings before pressing, as pressing could set the marks in permanently. Most patterns require frequent pressing, so you might not be using these all that often.

These pens should not be used on fabrics such as satin and other fabrics that might water spot.


This is probably the most time consuming method of all as it requires a needle and thread. To make the tack insert the needle through the pattern piece and fabric, and then bring then needle up again. Cut the tread so you have two small ends sticking out of the fabric. Sometimes these tacks can fall out. To prevent that from happening, simply insert and bring the needle up again in the exact same spot.


Snips can be made with a scissor along the edges within the seam allowance to help line up the pattern pieces. These are very important that you make them as a misaligned edge can distort the whole pattern.

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